Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2 Review

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Developer: Irrational Games

Publisher 2K Games

Xbox 360 Version Played. Also Available on PS3/PC.


As I crawled through a creaking vent, I looked out onto Rapture from an entirely new perspective. It was then I knew that this final segment of the Bioshock story was going to be something unique. And although it largely failed to deliver on Gameplay, it made a fitting end to the incredible storytelling and setting the games are famous for.

Firstly, the game is absolutely huge. It comes in two segments, as it breaks Microsoft’s size limits on downloadable content. If you were left feeling a little short-changed by Episode 1, don’t worry. It’s one of the biggest pieces of DLC I’ve ever played through, on the same level as the Fallout expansions. You play as Elizabeth, trying to find Sally, the missing Little Sister from the first episode. Playing as Elizabeth opens up a whole new way to go through Rapture, and often not successfully.

Bioshock Liz

The main, single problem I encountered throughout the entire game was balance. As I first started playing as Elizabeth, I felt severely underpowered. My Shotgun could hold 4 rounds. A full pistol clip wouldn’t down an enemy. The game made it abundantly clear I would have to look at Rapture in a different light. Although initially frustrating, I enjoyed the challenge and being forced into a new style of Bioshock play. The problems came as the game progressed.

About halfway through my play-through, I got my hands on a Plasmid upgrade that allowed me to remain invisible for no EVE cost, if I stood still, I also found the Radar Range weapon shortly after. With these two powerful additions, I coasted through pretty much the rest of the game. I’d go into cloak when the enemy spotted me, wait for them to come right up to me (the invisibility doesn’t stop if the enemy touches you), and attack them as soon as they turned round. If this ridiculous plan didn’t work, I simply used the Radar Range, and dispatched them quickly. At that point, the once-powerful splicers became little more than an annoyance. The enemies did grow in power towards the end, but I could still use my cloak power for instant kills. Although an exploit in the game, it still felt that all the mechanics weren’t settling in as they should for the new style of play.

Bioshock

To me, it feels that Irrational didn’t know what they wanted from the gameplay of Episode 2. They clearly wanted to build a stealth game, but by adding familiar weapons and overpowered plasmids to give us the tested Bioshock touchstones, they’ve ended up confusing the message. I spent the majority of the time actually wishing I didn’t have to fight or sneak at all, as the levels are so detailed and rich with Rapture history, I was just enjoying being back there again. I genuinely would have loved to play the entire game just exploring and looking, the level design was that brilliant.

Playing as Elizabeth was also a bit of damp note. It felt as if Levine initially made a throwaway remark of playing as her to attract gamers, which has led to the studio having to make a game missing one of it’s greatest strengths. With Elizabeth out of shot and in your control, she seems a much lesser presence. Booker was a blank canvas, who allowed us to watch Elizabeth mature and grow. Her infectious curiosity and unique outlook offered great gameplay moments, adding another perspective and pushing plot-lines. Here they can’t do that as much, and the game definitely suffers as a result.

The thing is, these flaws aren’t what Bioshock is about. By this point, you’re not playing it for the gameplay, you’re playing it for the story. It doesn’t get a free pass because of this, but the story is fan service and them some.

Bioshock Mother

Burial at Sea Episode 2 does an amazing job of taking care of all loose ends, and presenting you with a unified, structured ending that makes sense of a world in which Rapture and Columbia exist. To do this they’ve had to indulge in some pretty tenuous story links, but on the whole I was left feeling very satisfied. I could see little aspects of plot coming from time-to-time, but mostly I still enjoyed the ‘wow’ factor I’ve come to expect from these games. Especially the final act.

Ultimately, Burial at Sea: Episode 2 is the perfect send-off for Bioshock. It’s confusing, earnest, frustrating, brilliant and mesmerising, all at the same time. Just like Rapture and Columbia, the franchise is a dystopia. It strives for perfection, and although sometimes the outcome can go wrong, the sheer audacity and scope of what has been built can’t help but leave you in awe.

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Assassin’s Creed- Hardly a French Revolution

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When Kotaku reported on supposedly leaked screenshots for a new Assassin’s Creed game, my heart sank. For a franchise with almost endless possibilities, why does it feel like it’s already running out of steam?

Assassin’s Creed can pretty much do whatever it wants. The fact a game has managed to get away with the premise that it can take place in any period of time is an amazing feat of cheekiness, but it’s constantly squandered with boring fare. Who can honestly say they were looking forward to free-running up and down trees in 3?!?!

We were given a glimpse of the scope of the franchise in 4. Such a drastic change in time and place led many to believe that we were in for similar, fresh new experiences with this year’s sequel. But from what we’ve seen of the new screens and setting, it looks boring.

AC Original

They’ve chosen Paris. A safe, mundane choice which will no doubt rehash the exact same plot from the past 4 games, told through the eyes of a ‘loveable rogue’ protagonist that the main player base can identify with. Yes it’s supposedly set during the French Revolution, but we’ve had revolution in 3. We’ve had Europe in 2. It just feels like we’ve been here before. And in a series that has written itself a blank cheque in terms of scope, why are we treading familiar, boring territory?!?

The gameplay of the franchise is intuitive, but only serves to make you appreciate and interact with the environment. The location is the star of the show here, and always has been. When the third instalment was released it was met with a lukewarm reception, and a large part of that was the setting. The cities all felt similar, and the woodland sections were sparse and uninteresting to traverse. In order to make a game that makes you want to get lost in it, they have to choose inspiring locales, worthy of exploration. Although it’s ridiculously early to say, I just don’t think Paris will be good enough.

But why does it have to be like this? Ubisoft earlier this year squashed rumours of a game based in the Far East, which to me seems like a perfect refresh, something this franchise badly needs.

Imagine if the game was set in Feudal Japan, and had you playing as a Ninja fighting the Samurai. The parkour elements are made for this kind of setting, and the stealth mechanics needed are already a big part of gameplay. Imagine the history and story they could tell with this kind of game, and how good the art direction would look. They could even forget the Abstergo aspect altogether, focus on a new Animus company based somewhere in Asia, introducing a new story arc and characters. Doesn’t all this already sound exciting to you?!?!

AC Horse

As always, no matter where the franchise is set, it will sell incredibly well. It always does, because it’s a solid, fun game at heart. But in not taking risks, has Ubisoft set up the franchise for stagnation as time goes on? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Today the trailer was released, confirming the games release.

Titanfall Review

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Developer: Respawn Entertainment | Publisher: Electronic Arts

Not since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has the FPS genre made such giant strides forward, and although this can sometimes lead to missteps, Titanfall is much more hit than miss.

Respawn made a very bold decision with Titanfall, in that they decided to make a multiplayer-only game. In the world of the Console FPS blockbuster, this is largely unheard of. Although campaign modes have now dwindled to nothing more than a small add-on, they’re still considered essential by developers. Titanfall tries to merge it all together, by creating a campaign based on the maps and telling a story whilst you play Hardpoint and Attrition, the two main game modes based on flag capture and straight-up deathmatch.

And does it work? Well, not really. The story is flaccid, and with so much action going on around you it’s hard to concentrate on any dialogue or plot points. But what it does do is set a precedent. If games are to evolve and become better, risks have to be taken. And by taking this risk in removing a traditional campaign element, Respawn have showed what’s possible and where to go from here. It’s commendable, and the passion and intent of this new way of thinking bursts through.

By doing this, what they’re really trying do is focus solely on what matters most. The gameplay, it is here where Titanfall absolutely triumphs.

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One thing that struck me that I’d never usually consider in most games is how well the levels are designed. With such a vast size difference between the Titans and the Pilots, it instantly makes it a challenge for the developer to create a game that is fun for both combatants. Each level never feels too big for a pilot, or too constricting for a Titan. Ledges and platforms are judged pixel-perfect, meaning there’s always multiple ways to traverse the map with your jump-jet. The same goes for Titans, with blasted-out walls in hangars and docks always allowing Titans clever access to key map points.

A game based on the idea of giant bipedal tanks and their pilots would usually generate a favourable bias towards the mechanical in most people’s minds, but here the balance is great. In fact, I found taking down Titans by climbing aboard and shooting their internal circuits in a ‘rodeo’ fashion one of my favourite aspects of the game. All the weapons I’ve played with all seem to balance well, offering different advantages in certain situations.

Titanfall Battle

The game really endeavours to empower the player. Whereas Call of Duty or Battlefield may seem harsh and unforgiving to the outsider, Titanfall aims to cater for every skill level. AI bots run around the battlefield as glorified target practice, and if you’re using the Smart Pistol on these enemies, you don’t even to have to aim. Although at first this makes you feel like a complete bad-ass, over time I can see this process becoming tedious, and cheap. I don’t particularly begrudge this feature, I just can’t see how it adds that much to the game.

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Titanfall feels like a truly next-gen game. Whilst it may feel similar, it’s always striving to be more, to be a better experience. And whilst the narrative largely falls flat, the gameplay mechanics and foundations it’s laid shows a great leap forward in the genre. And amongst games that tend to be slow to change, this is promising stuff.

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Xbox One Version Reviewed. Also Available on PC 

Author: Brapscallion